Sunday, July 29, 2007

Skunks and Dogs

There are a lot of skunks walking around Mt. Pleasant. This evening one walked through our yard, was chased by our dogs, and sprayed them. Things I have learned about this situation:

1. Don't call your dogs into the house. It is already too late. Make them stay outside until you are ready to bathe them outside or march them straight into the bathtub, because if you let them in they will rub skunk smell all over everything - either trying to get it off, or because they like it, I'm not sure which.

2. Skunk smell that is sprayed on doesn't smell like skunk smell lingering in the air. It smells sort of like a combination of gasoline and sesame oil. I didn't think it was skunk when the dogs first came into the house, I thought maybe someone had sprayed chemicals on the dogs.

3. If you have young, dumb dogs, chances are great that they will get sprayed. Best to be prepared. According to a chemist's site I saw (too late) online, tomato juice doesn't work. Even though the report last week on CBC radio said it does. However, if you go into Mac's at 10:30 pm and buy six liters of tomato juice, everybody will know that your dogs got into a skunk and be sympathetic - if their dog got into a skunk, they will recognize the smell.

3. This nice chemistry professor in California has posted a site that explains what the main ingredients of skunk spray are - even shows the molecules - and what will work to neutralize them. You can find it at

Basically, he says, they have to be oxidized, and you can do that with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid detergent - or chlorine bleach (but don't use the bleach on the dog).

Another site said you could use vinegar instead of the peroxide, and that it wouldn't bleach the dog's coat as much. Here's the operational part of William Wood's advice:

For pets that have been sprayed, bathe the animal in a mixture of 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from drug store), 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and a teaspoon of liquid detergent. After 5 minutes rinse the animal with water. Repeat if necessary. The mixture must be used after mixing and will not work if it is stored for any length of time. DO NOT STORE IN A CLOSED CONTAINER - it releases oxygen gas so it could break the container. This mixture may bleach the pet's hair. I have heard of one black Labrador retriever that was chocolate colored after this treatment. (Paul Krebaum's Recipe from Chemical & E ngineering News , October 18, 1993, p. 90).

Some additional tips. Do this outside so the volatile skunk spray does not contaminate your house. To remove residual skunk odor from your clothes and any towels or rags used in this clean up procedure, wash them with one cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water.

For buildings, decks, etc., a solution of liquid laundry (Chlorox®) bleach (1 cup per gallon) will work. CAUTION - THIS MAY BLEACH THE BUILDINGS, DECKS, ETC. Try it on a small area if bleaching may be a problem. The bleach must come in contact with the spot where the secretion was sprayed Repeated applications may be necessary for large amounts of the skunk spray. DO NOT USE THIS ON PETS. It will not work for skunk spray that has drifted over a large area or is trapped in a house. Only time and adequate ventilation will help in this case.

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